The Madras High Court on Wednesday held that no homestay shall be permitted for tourists in the hilly Nilgiris district of Tamil Nadu.
Arbitrary sanctions or permission cannot be granted and there appears to be pure adhocism resorted to in such regard without an environmental impact assessment study or a cap put in, the first bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice P D Audikesavalu said.
It is becoming increasingly fashionable for residents in the area retreating into one corner of the property on weekends to open homestays for urban visitors to enjoy the beauties of nature. Till a plan is put in place upon appropriate studies being conducted and a viable scientific report being obtained, no further permission for homestays in the Nilgiris should be granted and the district authorities should conduct inspections to ensure that the homestay arrangements do not continue without any permission being obtained, the court ruled.
In fact, there may not be any law governing the matter and the State is requested to put a system in place.
The bench was admitting and ordering notice on a public interest writ petition from ‘Elephant’ G Rajendran, whose concern was about the mushrooming of illegal resorts and homestays in the ecologically delicate region of the Nilgiris with the consequential increase in footfall and toxic vehicular fumes.
The bench noted there are wide advertisements on the internet of homestay accommodations and said using residential accommodation for commercial purpose would itself be against public policy and opposed to law.
The State may also consider curbing vehicular traffic and keeping the upper levels free from vehicles using fossil fuel. “At the end of the day, there has to be intent and a desire to protect whatever remains of nature and the fragile ecology of the Nilgiris,” the bench added and requested the State to ensure that there are adequate restrictions put in place in accordance with law in the coming vacation season over the next month or so, both to arrest footfall and vehicular traffic that threaten to destroy the environment in the Nilgiris.